CLCV Blog: slate mailers

During the campaign season, the amount of political mail you receive is probably somewhere between "excessive" and "stunning." That's just the nature of campaigns; despite its drawbacks, mail is frequently one of the most effective ways to get a message directly to voters.

However, there's an insidious and potentially misleading kind of election mail: paid slate cards. I've received a couple this year (including one titled "Vote for a Greener California", pictured at left), and they're not what they seem at first glance.

They attempt to give you the impression that they represent the views of environmentalists. Looking more closely, though, an asterisk leads to a tiny disclaimer:

"Appearance is paid for and authorized by each candidate and ballot measure which is designated by an *."

CLCV slate cards In other words, the campaigns are paying a fee for the publisher of the paid slate to include their endorsement. No other consideration apparently comes into play.

Contrast that to CLCV's rigorous endorsement process of the last four decades. We conduct field research and determine candidates’ environmental records. We require candidates who want our endorsement to answer a detailed questionnaire on key environmental issues. Candidates finally undergo an interview by a panel of CLCV staff and Board members, and our Board of Directors makes the final decision. The outcome is determined by merit — not a check — giving our endorsements credibility that a paid slate card will never have. Read our current endorsements here.

CLCV's David Allgood recently talked about this issue on KQED's California Report — listen to the brief report.

If you're a current CLCV member, you should have received two slate cards with our endorsements. If you've received one of our slate cards (identified clearly with our logo and pictured at right above) you can be assured that it's backed with forty years of experience and our grassroots membership base. (If you're not yet a member, join here.)

Written for the CLCV blog May 27, 2010 by Jason Gohlke, CLCV Communications Manager